Marketers have used focus groups to get feedback from real consumers for decades. But often, a focus group just reaffirms marketers’ beliefs or gives a distorted view of how customers really feel. The truth is that focus group research often fails — or at least fails to deliver any groundbreaking insights.
What your focus group can’t tell you
Because of the nature of focus groups — a small sampling of people led in a group discussion by a moderator — a focus group cannot tell you about:
- Benchmarking. Benchmarking allows you to better leverage your marketing or R&D dollars and uncovers extreme data points, either to avoid negative response or capitalize on positive response.
- Personality. You can fill your focus group with young women, but if you want to target compassionate young women, you’re going to need something other than a focus group to find them effectively.
- Trends. Focus groups provide you with detailed information that is frozen in time. You get a one-time snapshot of a group’s response, but this doesn’t allow you to see trends.
- Unaffected Responses. Probably the most significant drawback to focus groups is that the participants’ responses are greatly affected by two parties: the moderator and dominant voices. Research studies on interviewer/response bias have appeared since 1955, and the moderator’s attitudes and behavior can have a significant effect on the group.
Segment your audience in hours — not weeks or months — all without asking questions. Craft campaigns and products that appeal to their personalities and unique interests.